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HELP! Fiords in May - train vs car?

We will be in Norway from May 16th for 9 days. I have read the recommendations here regarding the Norway in a nutshell tour and am still confused.
It seems that I need to choose between flexibility and seeing more sights(driving) with seeing views that are only available by taking the train. Is this correct?
I think I would prefer the public transportation option as it would be less stress for my husband(we are in our early 60s) - but can we still see more sights by staying a few nights in Flam and Balestrand? How would we get around if we don't have a car?
I would appreciate any and all advice!

Thank you!

Posted by
1635 posts

If you are able to get reservations for the NiN by train/boat/bus at this late date, less than two weeks before your departure, that would be my suggestion.

You can rent a car in Flam or in Balestrand if you are spending a couple of nights in either of those places, and you can then do some exploration further afield than where the NiN route takes you.

When I did it, I stayed two nights at the Balestrand Hotell ( and rented a car from I highly recommend both. They provided a wonderful loop route that took the better part of a full day. It was completely off the tourist trail and some spectacular scenery including glaciers, fjords, mountains, and waterfalls. I packed a picnic lunch and ate by a river formed from a melting glacier and had the place entirely to myself. (If you'd like the route, PM me and I will share the info with you.)

Some of the trains on the NiN route require reservations, so I hope you will not have any trouble booking! Good luck!

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you! Sounds perfect. Yes trains are open. I think it being off-season is in my favor. It looks like this is the only part of the NiN that needs to be booked ahead of time. We are taking the one that leaves at noon time as the early one was full. But we intend on sleeping in Flam that night and sunset is at 9pm - so hopefully this is ok.

Posted by
254 posts

I would not disagree with Lane's answer. However I will add this: don't be afraid to drive if you do want to deviate from the NIN path. We are in our mid 60s and drove a rental car on a 6 day loop through fjord country (including Balestrand) that hit the NIN tour highlights, as well as many other really amazing sights on National Tourist Routes. We did so because we wanted more than just the NIN experience. I found driving in Norway to be generally much less stressful than driving in Ireland which is my current champ for white knuckle driving. Yes, I did need to once back down on a narrow and steep mountain road so that a tour bus could pass. But it was a piece of cake compared to Ireland, especially when you consider that in Norway you drive on the right side of the road, there are not rock walls right at the edge of the pavement, and there's very little traffic out in the Norwegian countryside. Whatever you do, you'll love it. Norway fjord country is quite spectacular.